I just finished watching V for Vendetta on DVD, and I found it extremely powerful. The question of one’s responsibility in the face of an oppressive regime resonates strongly for me, given the current political climate. References to “America’s war” and the fear-mongering that convinces citizens to give up their rights in return for supposed protection from chaos, terrorism, and biological attack have a chilling relevance today.
Natalie Portman’s performance as Evey is intelligent, nuanced, believable. Stephen Rea’s performance as Inspector Finch offers the audience a sane center in the storm to relate to. And V . . . is insane, dangerous, warped, but thought-provoking.
The film is visually stunning. I don’t know the language of filmography, but the blacks and reds of the high chancellor’s chamber are stark, cold, and scary. In contrast, the brown tones and classic art in V’s lair seem all the more earthy, comfortable, valuable, and human. So many memorable images: the dominos that topple and leave one standing at the end, V’s slow-motion final fight, the pastoral setting and sun-saturated colors in Valerie’s movie, the overhead shot of Evey in the slowly falling rain paralleled by the shot of V emerging from the fiery wreckage of his prison, and the opening shots that show V donning his mask and weaponry intercut with Evey donning her makeup and work clothes. All these have strong emotional appeal.
The script contains nuggets worth mining. I particularly appreciate the line that says artists use lies to tell the truth, but politicians use lies to cover it up. If we citizens are denied the truth by our governments, we cannot make informed decisions; we become disposable pawns, collateral damage, or tools to ends that are not our own.
Personally, I don’t think blowing up Parliament is the way to solve our problems. But I respect the film’s message that we must not be passive as our governments make choices we may not agree with or as individuals consolidate their power over us by concealing truth and pretending to act in our names or our best interests.
Comparisons between the film and Alan Moore’s graphic novel are inevitable. But in this instance, I think the film stands on its own.